-- Artist statement (excerpt from an interview conducted by It’s Nice That platform)
(…) Initially I was excited by Wuhan’s location, as it is at the confluence of the Han and Yangtze rivers. I remember seeing Nadav Kander’s eerie, industrial depiction of the Yangtze in Portfolio Magazine with small figures dwarfed by the construction of giant bridges. Similarly, Zhang Kechun’s stunning series Yellow River became a big inspiration at the time.
I’d regularly catch the ferry from Wuchang District in the South to Hankou Bund, on the Northern bank of the Yangtze. Groups of swimmers bathed in the silty waters near the terminal as giant cargo ships passed by. A publicity stunt in 1966, saw Chairman Mao famously join 5000 swimmers in Wuhan’s annual cross Yangtze competition and the tradition seems to have stuck.
Hankou Bund is a 4km long stretch of curated park that runs parallel to the Yangtze. Locals congregate for group exercises, chess, dancing or to pose for photographs in front of the impressive skyline, dominated by the Greenland Centre - Chinas tallest building and 4th in the world. One of my favourite activities to observe was the bird kite flyers who skilfully manoeuvre their Eagle shaped kites close to the water, as if they were hunting for fish before circling upwards on a thermal.
Further up the Yangtze and on the outskirts of Wuhan lies Tianxingxiang Island. It consists mostly of farmland apart from a giant sandbar on its west bank that makes for perfect 4x4 driving, and a shipwreck that is used for wedding photoshoots. There’s a massive trend for elaborate pre-wedding photos in China and however remote an area of the city you visit, you’re likely to be met by a troupe of photographers, stylists, assistants and the odd smoke machine for ultimate effect!
(…) Wuhan is a bustling city with a population greater than London. Every corner you turn there’s a hive of activity. Its residents are very sociable. and there’s a strong culture for eating out, whether it’s in a restaurant or street food at one of the many night markets. Its roads are busy with cars, motorbikes and endless yellow hire bikes that end up in huge piles at their drop-off points.
(…) Before Covid19, Wuhan was relatively unknown to the west. It’s sad to think that it could forever be known as the source of a virus turned pandemic. Through these photographs, I hope viewers can take a moment to have an unbiased look at Wuhan, away from the mainstream media. To get a sense of the cities character and a brief insight into the daily lives of its inhabitants.
Fergus Coyle was born in London and raised in Bristol, England. He studied BA (Hons) Photography at Salisbury College of Arts. His personal work has won numerous awards and has been exhibited internationally through a number of photography exhibitions and festivals. The series “A walk through Wuhan“ has been featured in The Royal Photographic Society’s International Photography Exhibition 161, The Kuala Lumpur International Photo Awards and Lens Cultures Visual Storytelling Awards.
More information: www.ferguscoyle.com